There are three major shrimp trucks located on the North Shore of Oahu, near Turtle Bay. Giovanni’s, Fumi’s and Romys Shrimp Truck. Though, it is fair to note, Romys Shrimp Truck, established in 1978, actually operates out of a normal brick and mortal building but they do have a pickup truck in front with their sign on it.
Romys Shrimp Trucks menu is pretty straight forward with only seven items to choose from: Butter Garlic Scampi, Sweet & Spicy, Fried Shrimp, Half Pound Steamed, One Pound Steamed, Kilawen (salad) and the Sunfish Daily Catch. When asked what their most popular dish was, without hesitation, they said by far, the Butter Garlic Scampi Shrimp. Naturally, that was what I ordered.
Each shrimp truck has their own unique way of prepping their food. Romys chooses to leave the heads on their shrimp, which I have no problem with. However, since they measure their shrimp by weight instead of by count, you do get fewer shrimp. Personally, as a paying customer, at close to $14 a plate, I would rather not have the heads included in the weight of the shrimp. This being the case, I received nine shrimp in my order. Some may view this as nitpicking; however, I felt this was worth mentioning so you can decide for yourself if you want to get less shrimp compared to other shrimp trucks out there like Giovanni’s and Fumi’s. Fumi’s also goes by weight but they do not leave the heads on. Giovanni’s gives you twelve shrimp (also with no heads on).
So now to the good part: the taste and overall quality of the shrimp. Unfortunately, it was quite disappointing. Romys was not that busy the time of day I visited so I got my order without too long of a wait. The dish looked very good, visually and there was a lot of garlic on it. After photographing the dish, it was time to dig in.
The first thing I noticed when I pulled off the heads and started to peal the shrimp was that, it was very hard to peal. This was not a good sign. I took my first bite and instantly knew, it was way overcooked. The shrimp was not juicy and even though it had plenty of seasoning, it did nothing to help the taste of the overcooked shrimp. I have eaten at most of the shrimp trucks on the island and this was the first time I was very disappointed with one of them.
Being that this was the first time I tried Romys Shrimp Truck, I chalked it up to them having an off day. That was until I saw the reviews on Yelp. Romys Shrimp Truck had over 22% of their customers giving them a one or two star rating. That is close to one in every four people not satisfied with what they ordered. Sure there are some people that will just bury a company unfairly; I can assure you, I am not one of them. I have a great deal of respect for entrepreneurs and what it takes to run a business like this, which is why I would not be harsh in my review of any company, unless it was truly warranted. If you look at my other food related reviews, you will see that for the most part, I am very positive in my assessments.
Overall, I was not very happy at all with the food I was served and only ate three of the nine shrimp. Just to make sure I was not off base, I spoke with three ladies eating there and got their opinion of what they ordered. They also mentioned that they felt the food was overcooked and somewhat tough. Maybe it was an off day? It happens. However, for about $14 per meal, that is a mistake I won’t be making again.
You might enjoy their food and perhaps I just got a little unlucky when I ordered mine. At any rate, it is expensive enough on this island without spending $14 per meal just to immediately look for another place to eat. That will put a damper on any good time you are having.
Another thing that bothered me was the price of their bottled water. When I found out the cost, I said no on principle even though I was pretty thirsty. I could begrudgingly do two bucks, but $2.50 for that small 16oz bottle to me was pretty excessive, even for Oahu. For some perspective, Romys Shrimp Truck charges a full dollar more than the bottled water at Fumi’s Shrimp Truck and a whopping $1.50 more than Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck. Keep in mind, if you go to Kahuku Land Farms, just down the road, you can get a fresh cut coconut for only $3. I know businesses need to do their best to turn a profit but this is pretty over the top.
If you go to Romys Shrimp Truck, I hope you have better luck than I did. Judging from some of the other positive reviews on Yelp, many people have really enjoyed their meal there. Unfortunately I was just not one of them.
Here are some photos of my visit to Romys Shrimp Truck
Map to Romys Shrimp Truck